Flight Attendant Denies Smuggling Rats Aboard Plane

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funny grey rat closeup on white background
Photo: Oleg Kozlov

This is different: Colleagues of Long Island-based American Airlines flight attendant Louann Giambattista have accused her of hiding pet rats in her underwear and sneaking them into work, reports the New York Post. While Giambattista is "an admitted animal lover," she denies bringing rodents aboard her flights, and is now suing American Airlines for unspecified damages over the blacklisting and anxiety she's endured as a result of the "absurd" and "patently false" charges. To be fair, the evidence against her doesn't sound totally definitive: A pilot claims he once "saw a bulge in [Giambattista's] pocket" during a layover and concluded that it was "a live pet," and a fellow flight attendant "believes" she saw Giambattista feeding rats on the subsequent flight, apparently because Giambattista was "eating a dinner roll out of a cup" to avoid looking unprofessional.

While a search of Giambattista and her belongings upon landing did not yield any non-human traveling companions, she says American Airlines flagged her passport anyway, which means she is now stopped and searched every time she passes through customs. Even if Giambattista is telling the truth about the rats, it does seem like there must be something more to this story. However, she maintains that her coworkers targeted her for "no reason...People say, ‘There must have been a reason,' but there is none." We want to believe her, if only so we can stop contemplating the nightmare scenario of being trapped on an airplane with rats any further.